Practice makes perfect with list guidelines

Nearly 10 years after it started the process, the Canadian Marketing Association has finally released its guidelines for the sale, rental or transfer of customer lists and data. The guidelines, which set down on paper best practices for owners of customer...

Nearly 10 years after it started the process, the Canadian Marketing Association has finally released its guidelines for the sale, rental or transfer of customer lists and data.

The guidelines, which set down on paper best practices for owners of customer data, are predicated on the assumption that when marketers make their lists and customer data available to other companies, they accept responsibility for the use of that information. So they’d better make sure any offers being made to their customers are on the level. If the offer looks dodgy – if the advertising claims are outlandish, if the creative is in poor taste, or if the offer requires consumers to pay a service charge in order to claim a ‘prize’, for example – it probably is, say the guidelines, and marketers should exercise caution if they are to protect their customer relationships.

‘Our expectations are that these standards will help list owners and users build and maintain positive relationships with their clients, prospects and business partners,’ Bob Coles, CMA database and list council chairman and senior vice-president of Toronto list management firm Cornerstone, told delegates to the CMA’s annual database and list conference held earlier this month in Toronto.

The guidelines, articulated in a 14-page booklet titled ‘Guidelines for List and Data Transfer Practices’, also cover the technicalities of list and data transactions, setting out procedures for the proper identification of all parties, limitations on use of the data, method of payment, and how the data is to be used.

The main goal of the document is to maintain consumer confidence in the industry, says CMA president and CEO John Gustavson.

‘It is important that marketers have guidelines that help protect and preserve the value and integrity of their lists and data, while at the same time protecting the privacy of their customers,’ says Gustavson. When the CMA first discussed creating the guidelines 10 years ago, he notes, list rentals had no standards.

‘We had to bring some order to the chaos, if I can put it that way,’ he says. ‘Most list managers and brokers act very responsibly, but as our industry grows, more and more people are getting involved and expectations and obligations become somewhat different. We needed a set of best practices, and think now we’ve got a pretty good template.’

Database and list industry leaders within the CMA’s membership developed the guidelines, which adhere to the organization’s code of ethics, says Gustavson.

‘These guidelines will help marketers sort out contracts with list owners and review campaign history,’ says Clay Greene, manager of client knowledge analytics with the Royal Bank of Canada. ‘There is a lot of neat stuff in here.’

Sidebar: CMA list council chair steps down: Bob Coles hands reins to Cathy Preston

Bob Coles is retiring as the chairman of the Canadian Marketing Association’s database and list council.

The announcement came as Coles and CMA chairman John Gustavson released the long-awaited, years-in-the-making list and data transfer guidelines earlier this month in Toronto. Coles officially steps down in June.

‘He’s totally worn out,’ joked Gustavson in introducing Coles at the recent CMA list conference.

Replacing him is Cathy Preston, CMA board member and managing partner of Toronto-based marketing agency the Mosaic Group. Her appointment goes into effect on June 1.

Coles remains active, of course, as senior vice-president of Cornerstone’s list brokerage. DE

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group